Cambridge would open science parks abroad if UK left EU, says v-c

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz says a lot of UK research would be reduced to ‘irrelevance’ in the event of Brexit

September 25, 2015
Kings College Chapel and College, University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge would be forced to open science parks on the Continent instead of England if the UK leaves the European Union, its vice-chancellor has said.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said that being cut off from European funding and collaboration would see British research reduced to “irrelevance” in many fields and that it was “complete idiocy” to pretend otherwise.

Speaking at a debate on research and the EU held at Downing College, Cambridge, Sir Leszek said that the cluster of high-tech companies around the city was the most successful in Europe and that this reflected the “uniqueness” of the way in which the region’s universities engaged with the private sector.

But he questioned whether this boom could be maintained if the UK left the EU. Only companies on the Continent would be able to exploit research discoveries that were EU-funded, Sir Leszek said, because “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

“How successful do you think [this cluster] is going to be when some of those [universities] are going to have to think, Cambridge University included, that actually we now need to start creating science parks on the Continent, rather than doing it here, so that we can keep those jobs and opportunities for people here in Britain?” Sir Leszek said. “That is serious, it’s not a threat; it’s the reality of the world as I see it.”

Sir Leszek told the debate that, while European research funding was important, the opportunities for cross-cultural interdisciplinary collaborations that it offered were equally valuable.

Challenges that spanned borders needed solutions that did the same, he said.

“The idea of the ‘Little England’ sitting somewhere off the shores of Europe is frankly a fallacy and complete idiocy for those who actually wish to promote that type of view,” he said.

Pan-European collaboration was also the only way to create excellent research, according to the vice-chancellor, who said that it was wrong to pretend that the UK possessed all the skills required to make major breakthroughs by itself.

“We gain added value from collaboration and engagement and without that we become an irrelevance in so many fields,” he said.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments


Print headline: Science parks to leave UK in Brexit, says v-c

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard